(Courtesy Doug DeBiase, CACC Assistant Commissioner)
(The following is the second part of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) 10thAnniversary Retrospective Series on Felician College Athletics. Part two looks back at one of the school's most treasured teams – 2007 men's cross country – over the past 10 years since the CACC became an active NCAA Division II conference. Part one detailed the amazing career of men's basketball great Devon Young, and part three will be released later this afternoon on CACCAthletics.org)
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) has seen several dominant team performances at its various conference championships throughout its history.
One such instance came in 2007 with Felician College at the men's cross country championship.
The team's performance at the championship was remarkable and record-breaking, and in addition to walking away with the team title for the fourth-consecutive year, the Golden Falcons also staked their claim to one of the finest showings ever (regardless of sport) at a conference event.
The men's cross country championship race was just one part of an outstanding 2007 season for the Felician thinclads. The first sign of how truly remarkable the campaign could be surfaced in the third race of the season, as the Golden Falcons placed eighth out of 23 teams at the NYU Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. In a field of 238 runners, Brad Schepise and Mike Burghoffer were the two highest finishers for the Golden Falcons, as they placed 35th and 36th, respectively, to highlight a solid showing for the program.
The next week, though, proved to be even more impressive. Competing in the Philadelphia Metro Invitational at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, which in just a few weeks would serve as the host course for the CACC championship races, Felician zipped by 18 other squads for the team championship. Four Golden Falcons turned in top-10 finishes out of 161 competitors, highlighted by Paul Chegwidden's first-place finish in a time of 27:03 on the 8,000-meter course. Schepise was not far behind in fifth (28:04), while Alex Wright (7th, 28:11) and Brenden Krewer (10th, 28:32) rounded out Felician's top-10 finishers.
Felician was back at it on the Belmont just three weeks later for the Cabrini Invitational, and once again with a field of 19 teams turned in another top-five finish by placing third. Jay Rodgers finished in 12th place out of 159 runners in a time of 27:50, followed by Krewer in 18th (28:04) and Chris Harvey in 20th (28:08), to complete Felician's three top-20 finishers.
With two solid showings at Belmont Plateau under its belt, Felician was ready to return to the course the following week on Oct. 20 for the 2007 CACC Cross Country Championships.
Chegwidden. Schepise. Rodgers. Burghoffer. Wright. (Brian) McDonnell. Krewer.
Those were the seven names head coach John Brennan used to fill out his lineup for the championship race. He couldn't have sculpted a more perfect group to tame Belmont.
All seven harriers ran spectacularly on the day, so much so, that each runner placed among the top-12 to earn All-CACC honors – a feat that had never been accomplished up to that point in conference history.
Chegwidden was not only the first Golden Falcon to cross the finish line, but the first runner overall in an individual championship winning time of 26:34. The mark broke the championship meet record for fastest 8,000-meter time, and also allowed Chegwidden to take home CACC Runner-of-the-Year honors. His record-breaking time still stands today as the fastest 8,000-meter mark at the CACC meet.
Rodgers finished third in the race with a time of 27:38, and by being the highest freshman finisher in the competition, he was crowned the CACC Rookie of the Year.
Schepise was the third Golden Falcon to come home, as he placed sixth in a time of 27:52. Two other Felician runners placed among the top-10, including Burghoffer in seventh (27:57) and McDonnell in eighth (28:01). The other Felician competitors to place among the top-12 to earn All-CACC recognition were Wright (11th, 28:10) and Krewer (12th, 28:14). With the program's fourth-straight team championship secured, and all seven runners being recognized as some of the best in the CACC, it was an easy call to name Brennan the conference coach of the year.
Felician's memorable season concluded two weeks later at the NCAA East Regional race, as it placed 15th out of 26 schools. Chegwidden was the highest placing Golden Falcon with a 38th-place effort out of 172 in a time of 32:55 on the 10,000-meter course.
From 2000-2011, Felician men's cross country captured nine CACC championships, including five straight from 2004-08. When first glancing at the 2007 championship, it would be easy for someone to dismiss it as just another title in a long line of many. However, the dominating performance at the 2007 championship race proves that this Golden Falcon team in particular was one of the greatest (regardless of sport) in CACC history.
ABOUT THE CACC
The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference is an NCAA Division II Conference composed of 14 institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The member institutions are Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Concordia (N.Y.) College, Dominican (N.Y.) College, Felician College, Georgian Court University, Goldey-Beacom College, Holy Family University, Nyack College, Philadelphia University, Post University of Waterbury, University of the Sciences, and Wilmington University.
ABOUT THE CACC 10th ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE SERIES
During the 2014-15 athletic season, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) is celebrating its 10th Anniversary as an active NCAA Division II conference. As part of this year-long celebration, CACCAthletics.org is conducting a Retrospective Series featuring each of the league's 14 member schools. During the months of February and March, each school will have its own day on the CACC website, as a student-athlete, team, and top moment from the last 10 years will be recognized by the conference. Each school's athletic administration determined the top student-athlete, team, and moment for the retrospective.